This past weekend offered four chances for European riders to get UCI points. Most of the top riders were in Iowa for JingleCross which featured a C2 on Friday, World Cup race on Saturday and a C1 on Sunday. The European riders who chose to stay in Europe could pick up points at the Grand Prix Poprad, which was a C1 race in Slovakia.
Much like the top North American riders, virtually all of the Europeas skipped Friday’s C2. This gave them an extra days rest before Saturday’s World Cup. However, unlike the North American riders, the Europeans also skipped Sunday’s C1 race. Despite the drastically different course conditions in Iowa, Saturday’s race was a virtual repeat of the first round of the World Cup in Waterloo. Behind however, the results were much different.
Time to see this weeks rankings:
- David van der PoelVan der Poel put in another strong performance in Poprad. He ended up finishing third, just ten seconds off the top step. This marks his third podium appearance in as many races. He has stayed in Europe, so it will be interesting to see how he stacks up now that the rest of the European riders return home.
- Daan SoeteSoete continues to impress in the early part of this season. His tenth place performance on Sunday was a good one. He finished second in a three rider sprint for ninth. As he heads back to Europe he should continue to stay in the top ten and contend for the podium.
- Kevin PauwelsAt 34 years old, Pauwels is tied with American Justin Lindine for oldest rider in the race. With that said, he still excels in tough, muddy conditions. Therefore, his seventh place finish was not a surprise. As he heads back to Europe we will be looking for a little more consistency from Pauwels.
- Michael VanthourenhoutLast year, Vanthourenhout put on an amazing show at Worlds. If you remember, Worlds was a muddy mess, much like the conditions in Iowa. He landed on the podium in third, proving that the muddier, the better he can do.
- Tim MerlierMerlier slotted into sixth place on Saturday, right behind Corne van Kessel and ahead of Kevin Pauwels. He looked very strong and has remained consistent throughout the early part of the season.
- Corne van KesselVan Kessel rode to a strong fifth place finish on Saturday. The top riders were separated by 20 – 30 seconds, so the results sheet make it look like he finished well off the pace. In reality, the brutal course and tough weather took its toll on everyone.
- Quinten HermansOne of the younger riders on this list, Hermans continues to impress. He ends his North American campaign with a fourth place finish on Saturday. He’s still just off the podium, but should be a contender from here on out.
- Mathieu van der PoelIt’s almost time for the showdown everyone is waiting for. The European strong men are head back across the Atlantic to home soil. Van der Poel is well rested and should be ready to battle it out. Both Wout van Aert and Toon Aerts look very strong, it will be interesting to see how van der Poel fits into the mix.
- Wout van AertAfter all the drama before Waterloo, van Aert had a week to relax a bit and get ready for the muddy conditions on Saturday. At times van Aert looked super strong, but a bad line choice and acceleration from Toon Aerts gave Aerts enough room to get away for good. Van Aert is headed back to Europe where we expect him to continue to contend for victory.
- Toon AertsAs the saying the goes “to be the many, you have to beat the man.” In this case Aerts has bested van Aert twice now. He looks incredibly fast and strong, as he soloed to another World Cup victory. The season is long, but for now, Aerts is the man to beat.